Ambition is about being clear on a team’s remit, why that adds value to the customer, and what strategically we need to pay attention to in order to deliver against their needs. We start by asking ‘what’s your teams very reason for existing?’, the answer to which when correctly defined forms the Purpose. We then move onto the ‘what’ in terms of outlining where you want to get to over time to form the Vision, which should be a stretching and motivating target to aim for. Finally, it’s about being really clear on what strategic imperatives have to be in play to give us the greatest chance of success.
Structure is concerned with the division of tasks and responsibility across a team in order that it operates in the most efficient way. It needs to be ‘right sized’ in terms of numbers of people considering the Ambition it is striving to achieve. It also has to be the right shape, as a team is often sub divided into different groups of activity. The next consideration is clarity of role and accountability for each sub group in a team, as well as for each individual. Making sure these are defined reduces the chance of ‘grey areas’ where inefficiencies and disputes can arise. The final consideration is to ensure the right people are in the right roles with the right skills to deliver.
Focus is all about the quality of the plan to deliver the strategic imperatives. The plan needs to be detailed and comprehensive, with each strategic imperative broken down into its constituent parts to form streams with associated key milestones. Each stream has a project lead, who is responsible and accountable for delivery and has been involved in its formation. Progress must be regularly tracked so that everyone involved can periodically assess current performance and address any shortfalls or flex the plan should progress be ahead of schedule. The process for this must be easy to access and understand by all involved. Finally, any supporting systems and process must be aligned with the plan so that it drives the right behaviour consistent with its efficient delivery.
Cohesion, the glue that allows a team to operate efficiently together. It starts with having explicit and agreed standards that everyone is involved in shaping and committed to adhere too. This is to bring everyone to the same level of understanding of what is acceptable and helpful behaviour so that this is not left open to individual judgement and helps shape the culture of the team. The next factor is distributed leadership, where the formal leader empowers others to take on the responsibility to make decisions as they see fit within defined boundaries. This shared leadership responsibility eases the burden on the Leader and binds the group together towards common outcomes. Lastly you must have trust, which is about being open, honest, supportive, reliable, and putting the teams agenda before anything else.
More often than not teams have other teams that they rely on in order to be successful. The first stage is to create real awareness of who that is, by mapping out the interdependencies with others as well as the relationship strength with each which is often enlightening. One of the fundamental factors needed is mutual understanding of what you need from them and they from you and what you’re both willing to offer each other to strengthen the relationship. Over the years we have run many collaboration workshops where teams come together to take the time to establish this, leading to increased harmony, cooperation, and performance with minimal conflict.
Motivation is the desire to want go the extra mile in pursuit of personal and team goals and is affected by both Intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors include the enjoyment of certain types of work over others, the pursuit of higher levels of expertise, role progression or wealth. At a team level it’s about attainment of a goal, feeling like collectively you are adding value, or not wanting to let the team down. Extrinsic factors include your role allowing you to use your strengths, that you are given freedom to make decisions and organise your work, are asked for your input and rewarded for your efforts. At a team level it’s about the levels of recognition bestowed on the team, working in a healthy, safe and stable environment, and having a supportive leader.
Renewal has 4 factors – foresight, insight, influence and agility. Foresight is to have a handle on what’s changing in the future, insight is about understanding what needs to change in pursuit of these fresh challenges as well as how to continuously improve. Influence is about the robust communication that every team needs to have in order to agree on what needs to change and agility is about bringing those changes into practice with full commitment from the team. Creating the space to renew on a regular basis is vital for teams to be proactively moving forward and increasing their performance and harmony.